The contractions started slowly, but soon the pace quickened, and Rachel Tice knew the baby was coming. A mother of two boys, Tice, a former labor delivery nurse, began making plans: She called her midwife, arranging to meet at the hospital in Annapolis. She called her baby sitter to look after her boys, still fast asleep.
She woke her husband, Eddie Tice, also a nurse, and thinking they had plenty of time, the two headed north late Sunday night in their blue Toyota minivan from their home in Calvert County to Anne Arundel Medical Center.
As Eddie Tice, 40, sped along Route 2 heading toward Annapolis - yes, he was driving quite fast - Rachel Tice, 33, told her husband, "Pull over!" Her water broke, and she could feel the baby's head bearing down.
"I'm talking to [my belly] saying, 'Stay in. stay in,' " Rachel Tice recalled yesterday.
Eddie Tice pulled into the nearest driveway - a home, it turns out, that was vacant and for sale - honked his horn for help and called 911.
Don Weigel, an Anne Arundel County firefighter and paramedic, was working dispatch out of the communications center in Millersville on Sunday night when he got the call about 11:35 p.m. He said Eddie Tice sounded "excited," but he didn't know where to send emergency personnel.
The Harwood area of the county is rural, and it was dark, making it difficult for Eddie Tice to find the address of the home he had parked outside. Weigel said he was able to direct paramedics to their location - the 4700 block of Solomons Island Road - within feet, using tracking technology from Tice's cell phone.
Rachel Tice, at 37 weeks and six days pregnant, was standing near the rear of the minivan, the pressure in her belly mounting.
"He was on the phone," Rachel Tice said. "I said, 'OK, you have to catch her.' "
Eddie Tice, his cell phone wedged between his chin and shoulder - the phone fell to the ground at some point - grabbed for the baby.
Nora Jane Tice entered the world at 7 pounds, 15 ounces. The dashboard clock read 11:42.
They had no blankets, so Eddie Tice took off the blue polo he was wearing - a lucky shirt, he calls it, because he wore it when his last son was born - and wiped the baby's face. Nora began to cry.
Yesterday afternoon, Mom, Dad and Nora's two big brothers - Alex, 6 1/2 , and James, 3 - took turns holding the newborn inside a third-floor room at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where baby and mother were resting comfortably and in good health.
"I think I was pretty calm throughout the whole thing," Rachel Tice said. "It was intense."